Google Expands Bard Functionality

New features unveiled for conversational AI

Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai opens Google I/O 2023. Photo by Google.

By Josh Levin
Published May 12, 2023 | Updated February 18, 2024 at 10:29 am

Google announced updates to their Bard AI chatbot at the annual Google I/O developer conference Tuesday.

Sissie Hsiao, general manager for Google Assistant and Bard at Google, announced that the conversational AI is now powered by Google’s new PaLM 2 AI language model.

CEO Sundar Pichai announced the new model earlier in the keynote. The updated model powers more than 25 products that were also announced during I/O, according to a post on Google’s blog, The Keyword. “PaLM 2 models deliver excellent foundational capabilities across a wide range of sizes. We’ve affectionately named them Gecko, Otter, Bison, and Unicorn,” Pichai said.

The smallest model, Gecko, is able to run offline on mobile devices, according to Pichai. “It’s also trained on multilingual text — spanning more than 100 languages — so it understands and generates nuanced results,” Pichai said. PaLM 2 also improved at coding compared to previous models, and can be easily fine-tuned for other applications, such as security or medical applications, vastly improving its reasoning skills, according to Pichai.

Because of the improved coding performance of PaLM 2, Hsiao said Bard knows more than 20 programming languages.

Hsiao said that Bard will also be more accurate when citing sources. “If Bard brings in a block of code or cites other content, just click the annotation and Bard will underline those parts of the response and link to the source,” she said.

Bard can also now export content directly to Google Docs, Gmail and Google Collab, according to Hsiao. Google Collab is a web-based coding environment that runs on

Hsiao also announced “Bard + tools,” which will enable Bard to use extensions to access other services on the internet. “Bard is going to use Google search and the knowledge graph to find the most relevant images,” Hsiao said. “We’ll also make it easy for you to prompt Bard with images, giving you even more ways to explore and create.” She demonstrated this feature by using Bard to generate captions for an image of two dogs.

“Bard will be able to tap into all kinds of services from across the web with extensions from partners like Instacart, Indeed, Khan Academy and many more,” Hsiao said, showing off an integration with Adobe Firefly, an AI art generation tool.

Before leaving the stage, Hsiao made the final Bard-related announcement. “Today, we are removing the waitlist and opening up Bard to over 180 countries and territories,” she said. Despite the expansion, countries in the European Union remain barred from accessing Bard, according to a Google support article.

“And in addition to becoming available in more places, Bard is also becoming available in more languages, beyond English. Starting today, you’ll be able to talk to Bard in Japanese and Korean,” Hsiao said. She also said Google is working on support for 37 more languages in the near future.

Said Pichai, “We’ve been applying AI to make our products radically more helpful for a while. With generative AI, we’re taking the next step.”

Josh Levin is the founder and editor in chief of The Terabyte Tribune, handling all aspects of operations and coverage. He can be reached via email at [email protected]